Keeping Busy—New Recipes

I feel like I just posted about April flowers, and it’s already May. I hope you’re all well. I’ve been writing, cooking, baking, reading, and listening to a lot of webinars on a number of subjects: COVID-19, the writing business, nature and gardening.

Also drinking a lot of coffee and possibly wearing the same shirt a day or two longer than advisable.

I do not look like Baby Yoda. Yet.

One thing I did on the cooking front was try new recipes—did you know you can make “ice cream” out of bananas? Just freeze them, then whip them into a mousse in a food processor or blender. Add chocolate, instant coffee powder, cardamom, or a shot of spiced rum, and you have a pretty decent dessert. Is it a substitute for really good gelato? No. But if you’re watching your sugar or fat intake or need to add more fruit to your diet or, like me, you just really like bananas, it’s a pretty good thing to have in the freezer.

Banana freeze with a sprinkle of powdered chocolate

One of my favorite chili recipes is Ree Drummond’s (The Pioneer Woman) Simple Perfect Chili. One reason I like it is the use of masa harina (corn flour) as the thickener—it adds a hint of corn flavor, like a scatter of tortilla chips. The last time I made it, I found I didn’t have any masa harina. A quick trip to the nearest grocery store later, I became the proud owner of a 4.4-pound bag of Maseca instant masa. Thing is, I only needed 1/4 cup of the stuff, which meant I had a lot of leftover flour.

Hence the hunt for recipes. I wanted to use the masa more as a side dish than a wrap or bread, so I was pretty happy to find this recipe for Mexican polenta even though it didn’t call for instant masa. I tried it anyway, using the proportion of masa to water the recipe called for. It came out like thick farina, which I think is the desired consistency. It set up as it cooled—well, so does oatmeal and other cooked cereals. Next time, though, I may add more water.

Anyway, for step two, I decided to make this Greens and Beans Polenta Bake from Epicurious. I used less cheese and oil—not a fan of oily food—and pinto beans instead of small white beans. Baby kale served as the greens. I did add the six cloves of garlic.

Results above. The pie didn’t slice neatly, like polenta would. I am guessing this is because I didn’t use the masa as soon as I made it, when it was nice and flowy and warm. But messy as it was, it was still pretty tasty. Very garlicky. I will definitely make it again, although I will play with masa-water proportion to see if I can get a sliceable final product.